Gunners win, but Grant stands firm
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 16 Jan 2011 11:59:00
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What a day it was around Upton Park yesterday, as rumours circulated from early in the morning that the game against Arsenal, regardless of the result, was to be Avram Grant's last in charge and he would be replaced by former Aston Villa and Leicester City manager Martin O'Neill.

This information was firstly reported by Sky Sports News and then leaked to BBC Sport, however, just before the game in which the Hammers were totally outclassed by a superb display from Arsenal and lost 3-0, the word from the club suggested that the Hammers' hierarchy were still undecided on whether Grant will leave his position after this game.

On to the match and it was fair to say that Arsenal were in control from minute 1 and it only took them 13 minutes to take the lead, when Carlton Cole who worked hard throughout, lost the ball and Theo Walcott was left in plenty of space and crossed into Van Persie, who slamed the ball in, following terrible defending from new-signing Wayne Bridge.

On 19 minutes the Hammers came close to an equaliser, when Mark Noble nearly took advantage of a slip by Johan Djourou, only for the defender to regain his footing at the vital moment.

A minute later however Noble picked up a calf strain and was replaced by Luis Boa Morte.

Two minutes later, the Hammers forced Wojciech Szczesny into a superb double-save. Firstly, when Cole out-muscled Djourou and the Swiss international mistakenly back-passed it which Cole took advantage and shot, only for Sczcesny to block. Boa Morte was then first to the rebound and gave the ball to Zavon Hines whose first time shot was high and wide.

Arsenal continued to dominate and the home side were lucky not to go 2-0 down just after the half hour mark, when Boa Morte lost the ball and Cesc Fabregas sent Robin Van Persie racing clear. He tried a shot only for the ball to cannon back off the post.

The next goal arrived on 41 minutes and it was the same pair involved again. This time Van Persie did well to get in behind Bridge to pull it back for Walcott to double Arsenal's lead.

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The second half started with Arsenal continuing from where they left off in the opening 45.

Just after the hour, Jonathan Spector played in Freddie Sears, who had a pretty ineffective game until this point when he nearly scored, but the ball was eventually clawed away from the top corner by Sczcesny.

The effort that Sears had, turned out to be the end of the game for him as he was shortly replaced by Pablo Barrera.

A minute later the Hammers won a free-kick which Julien Faubert took for Boa Morte to then send a looping ball over for Hines whose shot was blocked well.

On 76 minutes Bridge's West Ham debut was turning in to a nightmare. He was at fault for the previous two goals and by this point had handed the Gunners the chance to go 3-0 up, which they duely took as Van Persie cooly slamed the ball past Robert Green.

The nightmare debut was over as Bridge was replaced by Frank Nouble on 88 minutes. It appeared that Bridge had picked up an injury (and to think the club are paying all of his £90k a week wages for his loan move and his debut ends with an injury).

The final whistle was greated by boos meaning that the Hammers remain at the bottom of the table after this result and ahead of the trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on Saturday afternoon.

The management's decision still is uncleared as radio reports after the game suggested that Grant had vowed to carry on as manager after the match.

So, following the speculation before the game, fans will have to question who is indeed leaking such information to the media.

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